The Lost Souls: Boys Without Fathers

“Who does your Mummy love? Your Mummy loves you” said the young mother to her son. The child in the pram just giggled uncomprehendingly. He was giggling because his mummy, his precious protecting mummy, looked happy. He could not only see it in her eyes; her smile, he could also hear it in her voice. The reward he offered her was a toothless giggle, kicking his legs; defenceless to her love.

There was only him and her. No dad. Who needs them anyway, just needed inseminating, and then he was gone, she’d often think. Sent packing, rejected by anger, seated by her own mother’s rage.

As the little boy grew he looked around him for others to follow. The easiest way to do this, was to watch mother closely. Who takes her attention as well as him? There’s no one at first, and then he spots him. No normal man. He hangs on a cross in their local church.

St Michael's Church
St Michael’s Church Wolverhampton

An imposing figure, hung there, head bent, knees bent, nailed to a cross made of wood. A huge crucifix, suspended from the ceiling, by wires. It commands your attention; there’s a dying man – he’s always dying, never actually dead – cruelly nailed there.

As a young boy, it fascinated, appalled and frightened him, in equal measure. It seemed to him, there was no concern, for the impression it made on his mind: The emptiness and confusion it instilled there. Or was this not true, and the intention clear, to an adult observer that is. It was meant to inspire, shock; to fill one with awe, wonder and questions. This was who mother loved. This man hanging there seemed to take her attention. She played the organ for him. She sang to him.

“And so in the young boys mind the game begins. How to compete with the attention given to this man – so talked about – every Sunday, hanging there in front of him”

He mustn’t lie. He must be a good boy. He must never takes the lord’s name in vain. He must always listen to mother intently; always obedient. He will serve on the altar: carrying Christ’s spirit in a candle; giving the priest the body and blood of the man his mother loves. Would this child one day travel to Rome and become a priest himself; always baying for the attention of his mother? Some do.

Sons love their mothers and they watch them closely. A young child soon becomes aware of how their very survival depends on their parent/parents or carers love. A boy will compete for the love and attention of his mother. He may compete against a father, or any man, who’s seen as a potential threat; taking mothers attention away from him.

The reason he will do this is survival. He needs the love and attention of mother. He needs her love to survive. He needs her approval. Without it he could perish. He also needs this understanding, from the men in his mother’s life, or things get tricky. If mother has a succession of men in her life, things get confusing. If there are no men in mothers life, things become ill defined.

In the natural scheme of things, this competition for mothers attention, is healthy. Healthy, in respect of a sons need to model himself and aspire to who gets his mother’s attention, the most. Under normal circumstances this creates a bond between son and father. They both want mothers attention and competition is healthy.

“If it’s the son who wins this attention (instead of balance through appropriate understanding and boundaries) and mother has settled for having no meaningful relationships with men – who also love her son – the child’s development is affected”

His sexual development might be affected, as might his confidence, and direction in life. Good role models are a must for young boys so they may hold things together, and develop into balanced, rounded young men. The figures prove it. Whether single mothers like it or not, lads do need dads.

It’s not for us to suggest that single mothers aren’t doing their best. Many are, and they’re often doing this, through difficult circumstances. We must all love the single mother. Some men simply don’t have the courage to cope with being a father, once the relationship with the mother of his child, has broken down. Some single mothers are of the opinion that their exes make poor fathers. Some men are simply shits. Some women are manipulative, bigoted, and ignorant. Simply human.

Is it not the case that anything is better than nothing? We do know, with or without a father, the child may still turn to crime, drugs or whatever. However, with a father figure, at least he has the option of making a choice for himself.

He knows he was created by his father and will come to know the attention (and what kind) you gave that particular man. When the father is rejected, confusion sets in. On break up, calm, gentle conversation, with sons – from both mother and father – clears confusion. It becomes safe for the child to choose what parts of those around him – he might model himself on – and future become. Ideally the good parts.

“The lost souls of young boys cry our for understanding. What shall I be? Who am I? What is this being a man? How must I be?”

Although a difficult act to follow, the lost soul in our story, at least found someone, to model himself on. Far better to give our sons good, living examples, to follow. Single or not, they will love you, for it.

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